MAG [POTENTIALLY DUMB QUESTION] Why is women's gymnastics more popular than men's gymnastics?

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Men's Artistic Gymnastics
Nov 15, 2022
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In my opinion, most children can benefit from a gymnastics education. Why is there such a large gender gap in enrollment (especially at lower levels)?
 

Aussie_coach

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That is a very interesting question, and I’d be interested to hear others opinions.

Even in this day and age there is still the connotation in a lot of circles that gymnastics is for girls and that boys should be doing things like team sport.

We have boys in our gym whose Fathers insiste they have to do team sports but, don’t have the same requirements for their daughters.

But where did this stereotype come from? As we all know MAG takes an incredible amount of strength.
 

JPC13

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Mar 25, 2022
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I think it’s probably country specific. When I was a kid, gymnastics wasn’t really on my radar and definitely not for boys.

I think a big reason is that gymnastics is basically a private sport. Practice takes place in some random warehouse on the edge of town. Competitions take place at even more random places.

Compare that to basketball (happens on the court after school or at the park), baseball (at the park we all hang around at), and football (after school or at the park). So visibility is a big part and being good at those sports makes you cool in school.

Similarly invisible men’s sports are boxing (most similar I think) and wrestling (more visible in some areas of the USA). However, both of those sports confer fighting skills that some boys find desirable and also makes you cool in school.

Had I been given the choice between boxing and wrestling or men’s gymnastics, I would have taken boxing and wrestling without a second thought. However, I didn’t even consider gymnastics until I had a very tiny extremely athletic daughter. Had I had a tiny son, he probably would have done boxing and wrestling, just like I did.
 
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JBS

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Now this is going to turn into a great discussion. I don't have time right now as I am getting ready to drive my son to his competition... 5 hours away... but I am following this for sure.

I am moving this to the MAG forum.
 

JBS

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Here is something that I always think in my head... "Name the premier women's sports? Now... name the premier men's sports?" What sports do you come up with in each list?
 

skschlag

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I think there are many factors, in addition to the ones already mentioned.

Women's gymnastics has had success internationally, so they have a lot more publicity. The men's side has been struggling internationally, so, they get little exposure.

It is a vicious cycle. They get little exposure, so fewer people follow. Fewer boys join. Which means fewer opportunities for boys who want to join, which limits the boys who can do gymnastics. Then, college programs get cut, cutting the opportunities even further. With fewer opportunities, fewer coaches, fewer programs, comes fewer boys, which limits the pool for international opportunities. And that means we don't do as well internationally so they get less publicity.

Lather...rinse...repeat.
 
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DTAG

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I think it is multi-faceted. For one, people do not understand the sport well. Ball sports are common enough that most people understand the gist of it, even without knowing all of the rules. With ball sports one can watch it, root for a team, and understand what is going on. It is harder to follow gymnastics if you do not understand what you are watching. And two, it is not publicized. Even through elementary schools, ball sports pick up publicity either through the city or the schools themselves. They do not promote gymnastics in schools at all. Schools typically do not offer after school classes and the local clubs do not promote themselves within the schools. Also, there isn't publicity for meets on tv like there are for ball sports. Even us in the community have to hunt for the link to watch a meet, and then we have to pay to watch it half the time. If it was on sports channels to watch, even past meets, I think people would stay on the channel to watch it for a few. The interest would grow. Just my two cents.
 
Jan 17, 2023
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Probably because women’s gymnastics has a slightly more graceful feel to it when watching. Personally, I find women’s events more interesting, or maybe I’m just biased. Men’s gymnastics also isn’t as well known, but one of my teachers thought I (a female homo sapien) knew how to do the parallel bars. Understandable, he was a geometry teacher. But, all in all, people must find women’s gymnastics more aesthetically and visually pleasing.
 

skschlag

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I have been at meets, where fans of the women's side have just come to watch the men because it is a package. When they actually watch the men, they are amazed, and love it. I have heard many just love the variety, the difficulty, the excitement. It is just so different!

It isn't as easy to find though, and you have to actively see it out.
 
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Aussie_coach

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I think people not understanding it is a big one. Most of us can watch a competition in either MAG or WAG and understand it. See the difficulty level, technical errors etc. that makes it more exciting, we know when we have seen an amazing routine, an exceptional skill or a huge flaw.

The average spectator would enjoy the obvious skill required to perform the interest and unique moves but would not be able to follow it as a competition. So the element of supporting a team etc can be lost.

But in gymnastics competition is such a small part of it. I don’t know about the US but here the vast majority of gymnasts don’t participate in competitions. They are recreational, it’s about the amazing things gymnastics can do for the body, mind, strength, flexibility, balance that few other sports can and about the joy of learning new skills and the feeling of defying gravity,

But it’s often competition that sells a sport to the general public and its things like winning titles and qualifying for states and nationals and getting college scholarships that makes it feel like a legitimate pastime to so many families.
 

Madden3

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In my opinion, most children can benefit from a gymnastics education. Why is there such a large gender gap in enrollment (especially at lower levels)?
I think it is pretty simple. Dear sport of gymnastics, boys are just not that into you!

… But, maybe, it is possible to create more exceptions to this rule.

Thinking over my sons teammates over the years, most first came to the gym because their sisters were already there. Some, their parents were told it would be good for their hyperactive/climbs/jumps all over the furniture type kid or, the parents were gymnasts themselves.

In our case, I brought my eldest to the gym at age 7 because I noticed he lacked flexibility and I could not find a kids yoga class I liked for him. This was a very weird reason to come through the door, but there you are. Otherwise I never would have thought of it for him and he never, ever would have suggested it for himself. I do not think he knew what gymnastics was. But because this particular gym had really great male coaches and had a boys only rec class, he felt instantly happy and comfortable. They even had a preschool class just for boys for his brother. The end result, both my sons were gymnasts for years. This never would have happened at a gym that was less accommodating to boys.

I think it a rare boy who REALLY wants to do gymnastics from the getgo, above other sports and asks their parents to find a gym AND pay the fees.

And, I think it is an even RARER gym that offers an environment where those little boys who do make it through the door feel welcome and valued and “understood” as boys. Many other sports effortlessly offer that sense of belonging with a group of other boys that many boys truly crave.

So, I think gyms could make a difference here by promoting their boys gymnastics programs, hiring great male coaches to work with the boys (a female coach can work of course, but she would need to love and appreciate boys and boy energy) and by offering boy only rec classes starting very young.

But I think maybe most gyms understandably do not want to put too much energy into the reluctant boys when they have plenty of eager girls coming in the doors.
 
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JBS

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As a 10 or 11 year old during the 1988 Olympics... my favorite gymnasts were...
  1. Valeria Luikin
  2. Dmitri Bilozertchev
  3. Vladimir Artemov
As far as US athletes... the ones I had posters and cards of of in the late 80's and early 90's...
  • Walter Payton
  • Michael Jordan
I had thousands of football... baseball... and basketball cards... but I had hundreds of those two players.

I ate so many Wheaties to get the Jordan 3 part poster series around the early 90's it was amazing... literally 50 or 60 boxes to get the set. I would eat a whole box every morning for breakfast and if I couldn't finish it... then I would have more at dinner. I wasn't allowed to unwrap a new box until the last was finished... I LOVED Wheaties though.

I shot free throws in my driveway until I finally made 100 in a row... then I started shooting over a tree branch to get more arc.

michael-jordan.jpg


I would throw the football to myself and run through the yard and dive and catch it... then I would hand it off to myself and run back like Walter Payton. I use to love to listen to the Super Bowl Shuffle and watch "Sweetness" & Bears highlight clips.



Then there was Tecmo Bowl... then the original Madden came out. What game system... don't know... we had every system under the sun... like all of these @Geoffrey Taucer


We would go to Chicago White Sox games (my Dad's favorite player was "Pudge")... then there was my favorite "The Big Hurt".

Gymnastics just had no shot... except that I was a gymnast. That's just what I remember.
 
Jan 30, 2023
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In my opinion, most children can benefit from a gymnastics education. Why is there such a large gender gap in enrollment (especially at lower levels)?
I believe this is due to the (wrongful) stereotype that male gymnasts are "gay". The amount of flexibility required and the physical closeness of the groups doesn't fit the stereotypical 'male' behaviors. This also may be due to the origin of gymnastics, where it was male only ((which many don't know today, but it may be where it stemmed from?)). Once woman started in the sport, people started unofficially assigning sports for men and woman which made standards of behavior change for what was considered a fit for these sports. Woman's gymnastics started out with emphasis on artistic- they didn't want muscular woman. So, if you watched woman's gymnastics, and don't see men's, you assume that is what men do too.
I don't think it's as applicable today, the numbers seem to be growing again, but in the older idea of what's a "man's man" - the flexibility isn't in it, and there isn't any violent slams/passes/tackles/fights, aggressive trash talk, or yelling of the crowd or TO the crowd in this sport either, which is largely associated with 'manly behavior'. For the generations raised with this, or raised in this, gymnastics wasn't an option for most. Again - I see a change, and I am so excited!
 
Jan 30, 2023
2
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I think it is pretty simple. Dear sport of gymnastics, boys are just not that into you!

… But, maybe, it is possible to create more exceptions to this rule.

Thinking over my sons teammates over the years, most first came to the gym because their sisters were already there. Some, their parents were told it would be good for their hyperactive/climbs/jumps all over the furniture type kid or, the parents were gymnasts themselves.

In our case, I brought my eldest to the gym at age 7 because I noticed he lacked flexibility and I could not find a kids yoga class I liked for him. This was a very weird reason to come through the door, but there you are. Otherwise I never would have thought of it for him and he never, ever would have suggested it for himself. I do not think he knew what gymnastics was. But because this particular gym had really great male coaches and had a boys only rec class, he felt instantly happy and comfortable. They even had a preschool class just for boys for his brother. The end result, both my sons were gymnasts for years. This never would have happened at a gym that was less accommodating to boys.

I think it a rare boy who REALLY wants to do gymnastics from the getgo, above other sports and asks their parents to find a gym AND pay the fees.

And, I think it is an even RARER gym that offers an environment where those little boys who do make it through the door feel welcome and valued and “understood” as boys. Many other sports effortlessly offer that sense of belonging with a group of other boys that many boys truly crave.

So, I think gyms could make a difference here by promoting their boys gymnastics programs, hiring great male coaches to work with the boys (a female coach can work of course, but she would need to love and appreciate boys and boy energy) and by offering boy only rec classes starting very young.

But I think maybe most gyms understandably do not want to put too much energy into the reluctant boys when they have plenty of eager girls coming in the doors.
I'd love to add to this! :)
The cost of maintaining boys equipment that never gets used is also very high. Gymnastics equipment is EXPENSIVE, and space in a gym is very limited, so it's a vicious cycle.
Most sports pull coaches /sport specific employees from their membership pool. Finding male coaches when men's gymnastics is already at a lower enrollment, is hard. Depending on their availability, they may not have enough enrollment to justify putting a "boys only" class when most gyms already struggle with staffing regularly; even if just sub staff.
Having a female coach for a sport that many (but less!) still say isn't for boys, makes it harder for parents and/or children who are fighting that mental conditioning already.
Without seeing male gymnasts, it's hard for boys to see a future in the sport. They leave after the preschool age to do other things. So clubs that want to start a team that have the equipment already still have that struggle. Clubs that don't have the equipment but need the enrollment to justify the purchase is even harder.
There isn't much media coverage, even with the insane availability of media, so seeing it is still hard when even the sports channels cover woman's gymnastics way more effectively.

So, less men = less representation. Less representation = less exposure. Less exposure = less enrollment. Less enrollment = less justification for the expense of maintaining equipment that ONLY gets used for one demographic that's not big. Less enrollment= less justification for the space required for equipment. Which then just emphasis' that cycle to continue. It's frustrating!!
It sucks because smaller or poorer gyms have to rely on bigger or richer gyms to get their programs running so that can help with theirs. They then have to fight with the size of their gyms because of the things you stated above (marketing, boys having their own program, male coaches, etc). There's a positive upswing happening right now, at least in the North East, I just hope it continues!!
 

JBS

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I will add this... my son goes to another gym as we don't have men's gymnastics anymore. My first two kids were girls... so I ended up converting from MAG to WAG and that was the end of it. We ended our boys program years ago. We started a ninja program and went from around 50 boys total on team and in rec. to around 200 in ninja in 1/2 the space. We've never had so many boys in the gym. It's different... but honestly... it's not a bad thing.

The club next door has a great men's program. If we had the same... it would just split the boys into more locations more than it would bring more boys into the sport. Three of the boys from our old program made it to L10 at the club next door once we ended our program... we sent around 12 boys over to them back in the day.
 
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GymDadWA

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Gymnastics is associated as a female sport even by AI. Image search on google or ask an AI to show you "gymnastics" and the first 20 images are women with 95% the images total are women.

1675098625508.png



Similar to how basketball shows primarily male athletes when you do an image search.

1675098760139.png



Because of the gender bias with the sport association, I think families sort of lean towards or away from certain activities either consciously or subconsciously.

At my DD's gym they have Ninja classes which are similar to basic tumbling but with a new name and have an even split or even lean more boys then girls, so to me it's not that families don't want their boys doing gymnastics they just don't think of it first when coming up with activities for their boys to start.